Sunday, January 21, 2007

I Stink

By Kate and Jim McMullan. This is Buddy Boy’s current favorite book. It is the story of a trash truck, told very entertainingly in the first person. I don’t know what it is about four year old boys and smelly garbage and poop, but if you want to get their attention, that is all you need to mention. He begs me to keep it checked out of the library and wants me to read it over every night. We have also read McMullan’s book I’m Dirty, which is about a front-end loader getting dirty cleaning up an empty lot. He likes that well enough but it doesn’t bring out the passion that the garbage truck does. He has always adored trash trucks, as did Buster when he was young. Something about the size and noise and power of destruction I imagine. I Stink has the trash truck bragging about his wide tires, double steering wheels, blinking lights, power crusher blade and squealing brakes. The illustrations are cartoonish, tending toward the yellow and red spectrum and outlined in black. The text flows and bends like WordArt, changing size and shape to emphasize movement and power. The middle of the book is an alphabet of all the smelliest things you could toss out, including kitty litter, puppy poop, and dirty diapers.

Interestingly, one of the first times we read it Buddy said “diapers aren’t trash!” Score one for green living; what he knows of diapers are cloth and washable. Putting poopy diapers in a landfill doesn’t make sense to him. He is also fascinated by the page that shows the city drowning in uncollected garbage, which is what would happen if we didn’t have trash trucks doing their job. Buddy likes to repeat “You’d be on Mount Trash-o-rama, baby” even though he is still trying to figure out what that means. Not only does this book amuse him, it is also introducing him to environmental and sustainability issues and teaching him beginning reading principles like sound-symbol correspondence, decoding and sight words.

After I read it he goes back through it and can recite many of the pages. He has learned to read some of the sight words. I can hear him reading and/or reciting it over to himself at naptime, his intonation and enunciation mirroring the way I read it to him. Yesterday he pointed to the large A in ROAR and asked me why it was in the middle of the word. He recognizes Stop, Burp, Plop, and ZZZZZZZ. After I explained to him that the z’s meant snoring or sleeping, he has referred to that in several other contexts. Because all this foundational reading is so exciting, I don’t even mind reading about all the nasty garbage that the trash truck rejoices over eating for breakfast. The more squeamish I react, the more he loves it. Who said you can’t get boys to read? Just bring on the stink!


Dawn said...

I just reviewed I'm Dirty for commonsensemedia and it was one review book we were really happy to get. (Some of them are not so great!) Madison really likes it and I have I Stink on my to-get list at the library!

Susan said...

At seven they still love the subject! "I Stink" is fun; my son found it hilarious. I liked it, too.

kim said...

Thanks for the title, it is new to us. I have a four year old, Boom Boom, who will get...well...down and dirty with the text, I'm sure.

Alright for your little guy's 'green' awareness. Hats off to you.

Elaine Magliaro said...

When I was still working as an elementary school librarian, I used to read I STINK! to my kindergarten classes. After I'd finished reading the book, the response from the kids was: "Read it again! Read it again!"

Another "trashy" book they liked was Andrea Zimmerman's TRASHY TOWN, which was illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. (No mention of poop or dirty diapers in this book, though.)

And yes, they love garbage and poop...and underwear. They continue to love it when they are five and six.

Jenna said...

Ah, we've had this one out of the library. It was very amusing. :)

Andrea said...

our library had this with an accompanying tape, and while i usually prefer to read to my kids myself, i thought the recording was fun and really well done.